How to Protect Yourself if Fiduciary Ruling Goes Away
Many in the financial industry are up in arms over the Obama-era fiduciary ruling designed to protect investors from financial advisors who have their own best interests at heart instead of their client’s. And while the current president ordered the ruling to be reviewed by the Department of Labor in an attempt to overturn the ruling, a U.S. federal judge has upheld the ruling.
So, what can you do to protect yourself against unscrupulous financial advisors whether the ruling stays in place or is done away with?
You need to ask the right questions. And the first question to ask is whether or not your advisor is a fiduciary.
Some professionals, mainly certified financial planners and registered investment advisors have been acting as fiduciaries for years. So ask your current advisor and get written confirmation that he or she will act as your fiduciary. If they can’t assure you that they are fiduciaries, find an adviser who can.
Something else to look out for is that you may be asked to pay a management fee to make up for the loss of sales commissions if you work with a broker. Keep this in mind: If the requested fee is more than .85-1.5% of your assets, find another adviser. You might even consider low-cost alternatives, such as a computer-based robo-adviser. Robo-adviser services (which, according to the DOL rule, are fiduciaries) typically offer low-cost investment options for set fees.
It is always your responsibility as an investor to make sure that the person giving you retirement advice and selling you financial products like mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and annuities is acting in your best interest. Get used to bringing up the term “fiduciary” to your current adviser, or any new financial adviser you’re considering.
You’ve worked hard for your investments. Make sure you’re not giving them away to support someone else’s lavish lifestyle.